Visual Anthropology and Materiality

The theme Visual Anthropology and Materiality is based in recognition that technology, media and material culture are not merely products of culture but active sites of cultural practice.

This research theme connects the work of visual and cultural anthropologists with archaeologists who are investigating human visual communication and the cultural effects of the production, circulation and consumption of images and objects.

This inherently interdisciplinary theme encourages collaboration among anthropologists and artists, art historians, and scholars of cultural and media studies.

Departmental research that connects to this theme includes: collaborative art-based community research centred on the production of digital video and photographic art as both a subject of and method for research; studies of technological style and processes of material culture production; investigations of the role of images in the evolution of human cognition; and research on the diverse ways in which technology mediates and shapes bodies, social relationships, and subjectivities.

Take a look at the Ongoing Research page for more information on current research projects related to this theme.

Recent publications

  • Nowell, April, Bahn, Paul, and Le Quellec, Jean-Loïc.  Accepted. Evaluating the evidence for lunar calendars in Upper Paleolithic parietal art.  Cambridge Archaeological Journal. 

  • Nowell, April and Macdonald, Danielle. Accepted. Culturing The Body In The Context of the Neolithisation of the Southern Levant.  Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports.

  • 2022. Nowell, April. Oral storytelling and knowledge transmission in Upper Paleolithic children and adolescents. Special Issue: Skill development and knowledge transmission. Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory 29(4).
  • 2021. Davidson, I., and Nowell, April. Introduction. Behind the scenes—did scenes in rock art create new ways of seeing the world? In I. Davidson & A. Nowell (Eds.), Making scenes: global perspectives on scenes in rock art. New York: Berghahn Books.
  • 2021. Van Gelder, Leslie and Nowell, April.  Scene makers: Finger fluters in Upper Paleolithic caves. In Making Scenes: Scenes in Global Rock Art, edited by Iain Davidson and April Nowell.  New York: Berghahn Books.
  • 2021. Nowell, April and Cooke, Amanda. Culturing the body: adornment and ornamentation. In Oxford Handbook of Human Symbolic Evolution, edited by Andrew Lock, Chris Sinha and Nathalie Gontier.  Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 1-32.   DOI: 10.1093/oxfordhb/9780198813781.013.20
  • 2020 - Collins, Benjamin R., Wojcieszak, Marine, Nowell, April, Hodgskiss, Tammy,  and Ames, Christopher J. H. Beads and bead residues as windows to past behaviours and taphonomy: A case study from Grassridge Rockshelter, Eastern Cape, South Africa. Anthropological and Archaeological Sciences 12
  • 2019 - Rudnyckyj, Daromir. Beyond Debt: Islamic Experiments in Global Finance. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
  • 2018. Alexandrine Boudreault-Fournier. Guardians of the Night (15 min) (trailer):
  • 2018. La Tumba Mambi. In process of post-production. Trailer (SP. ENG-Sub):

  • 2018 - Ann Stahl, Efficacious Objects and Techniques of the Subject: “Ornaments” and their Depositional Contexts in Banda, Ghana. In Relational Identities and Other-than-Human Agency in Archaeology, edited by Eleanor Harrison-Buck and Julia Hendon, pp. 197-236. Boulder: University Press of Colorado.